Enhancing your social network will make college more exciting

College life presents most students with new opportunities, as well as increased freedom. This is especially true in a city like Lexington, where there’s always something happening somewhere at some specific time.

Part of the battle for incoming students is dealing with the change in lifestyle that college presents. Some are better at this than others. If you have no problem meeting people, and you can make the best of any situation, your transition will probably be smooth and painless.

But if you’re like me, meeting people and “fitting in” is difficult for you. The prospect of forming new social circles can seem daunting and unappealing. However, once you start down this path, it gets easier. And ultimately, you’ll find yourself enjoying your college career more because of it.

If you came to UK with several of your friends from high school, that’s great. These are probably your best friends, your roommates and the people you hang out with on the weekend. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But I would also suggest expanding your group of friends. The college years present students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for meeting people. Once we become inundated in our careers, that opportunity just isn’t there.

Since I’ve been at UK, one of the things I’ve come to dislike most about the summer is that I am so disconnected with my “non-hometown” friends. So I love it when the school year starts back, and I have the chance to hang out with them and catch up.

As I already said, branching out is easier for some than others. If you are involved in a bunch of campus clubs and organizations, it’s probably easier for you to meet new people than for people who aren’t as involved.

But campus organizations are just a way to expedite the process. They aren’t required to expand your social circle. The only thing you really need is the courage to go up to someone and start a conversation.

The most logical place for this, of course, is in the classroom. Straight lecture classes are perhaps not as conducive for socializing, but try to get to know your classmates in classes where discussion and group projects are involved. Talk about life outside the classroom. One of my good friends I’ve met since coming to college is someone I worked on a group paper with in an English class. I have a class with her this semester, and I talk to her almost every day.

Another place where you can meet people is in your dorm or apartment. During my freshman year in Haggin Hall, my neighbor across the hall came over and introduced himself to me one day. I quickly found that we had a lot of similar interests, and we also had classes together last semester. He is now one of my best friends here at UK.

Start with small talk if necessary to break the ice. Talk about classes or UK basketball. Those are two things that most people on campus enjoy discussing.

I still have my friends from my hometown. Heck, my roommates are three guys I’ve known since elementary school, and we get along as well now as we ever have.

Yet, I am also extremely glad that I’ve expanded my social network here at UK. I have learned so much by just being around different people. And by hanging out with new people, I’ve gained a new respect for everyone else around me. Trust me, you are not as different from your next-door neighbor as you think.

In a time where people have fewer and fewer “close friends,” I like knowing that I have a somewhat stable circle of people I can trust and who actually care about me. And as you start to make more friends here at UK, I think you’ll start to feel the same way.